Foreign language

The kids in the back of the bus were speaking English. Not necessarily fluent, but perfectly at ease. Maybe they’re members of the ambassador club of NTHU, like I was before.

A dark, thin man was standing next to me, eyeing the kids suspiciously. “Foreign language,” he muttered now and then. His phone rang.

Wei,” he spoke in Mandarin, then burst into a clacking language. After a while, Mandarin again.

“Speaks foreign language la,” he said to his phone, “They speaking foreign language. I know English, English is fuck you.” At this point he was shouting.

There was an ephemeral silence on the crowded bus. All the young people were staring and not staring at the same time. I kept looking at him, and he turned to me.

“Did you know what I was saying?”

“No.”

“I was speaking Hakka! You don’t understand right?”

“Right.”

“I learned English when I was working in the factory. So I know, English is fuck you.

I stammered to find what to say. Is this a real conversation? There’s a noticeable odor and I can’t help but think it’s coming from the man.

“You know what else I learned at the factory? Thai. I know Thai too. They teach me, x^$#2vui is chi fan (have a meal).” He repeated “having a meal” in Thai.

That’s great sir. Fuck you doesn’t mean have a meal though.

 

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